In order to determine the usefulness of MRI in assessing autologous chondrocyte implantation (ACI) the first 57 patients (81 chondral lesions) with a 12-month review were evaluated clinically and with specialised MRI at three and 12 months. Improvement 12 months after operation was found subjectively (37.6 to 51.9) and in knee function levels (from 85% International Cartilage Repair Society (ICRS) III/IV to 61% I/II). The International Knee Documentation Committee (IKDC) scores showed an initial deterioration at three months (56% IKDC A/B) but marked improvement at 12 months (88% A/B). The MRI at three months showed 82% of patients with at least 50% defect fill, 59% with a normal or nearly normal signal at repair sites, 71% with a mild or no effusion and 80% with a mild or no underlying bone-marrow oedema. These improved at 12 months to 93%, 93%, 94% and 91%, respectively. The overall MR score at 12 months suggested production of normal or nearly normal cartilage in 82%, corresponding to a subjective improvement in 81% of patients and 88% IKDC A/B scores. Second-look surgery and biopsies in 15 patients (22 lesions) showed a moderate correlation of MRI with visual scoring; 70% of biopsies showed hyaline and hyaline-like cartilage. Thus, MRI at 12 months is a reasonable non-invasive means of assessment of ACI.